The 411:These soy-based cheeses have slightly more calories and fat than fat-free cheeses, but we decided they were worth a chew. They come in tons of varieties, and are surprisingly easy to find in the produce aisle of most grocery stores.
The Verdict: Eaten alone, you'll probably notice a slightly different taste than traditional dairy. But on sandwiches and in recipes, they have a rich cheesy taste that would fool diehard cheese-lovers. The shreds definitely melt better than regular fat-free cheese, probably due to those extra few fat grams. We especially love the 60-calorie-per-serving Cheddar & Pepper Jack Blend. And we're super-impressed with the Smoked Provolone Slices (1 slice: 35 calories, 2g fat = 1 Point). This smokey slice is one of the lowest in calories and is definitely a rare flavor find for a light cheese. We also love the Swiss 'cuz it tastes soooo goooood. Mmmmmm!
HG Honors: Most Sandwich-Friendly. Make guilt-free melts, burritos and more with it.
The 411: Kraft offers up quite a few flavors of these no-fat cheeses, but the shreds are actually super-hard to find (wahhh!). Stores seem to stock up on the reduced fat ones (about twice the calories with around 5 grams of fat per serving - no thanks!), instead. The slices are pretty easy to locate, though.
The Verdict: Don't get us wrong, we LOVE these slices (and ALWAYS keep them on hand). But melting these things can be like a science experience gone awry. They kinda bubble for a second and then sort of spring back to their original shape (weird!). And they definitely taste like "fake" cheese. If you're a true cheese fan, you may not love this stuff. However, if you're a calorie-counter looking for a simple swap, the slices are the way to go.
HG Honors: Best Low-Cal Snack Cheese. A 30-calorie slice hits the spot.
The 411: The wedges are available in an impressive array of fancy flavors: French Onion, Garlic & Herb, and Original Swiss. And they're popping up everywhere, in the refrigerated dairy section of many markets. The tiny and adorable Gourmet Cheese Bites may be harder to find, but they're worth the hunt.
The Verdict: This may well be the best cheese on the planet. Really. Great on sandwiches, melted into sauces, or even as a cream cheese swap, these spreadable bites 'n wedges ROCK OUR FACES OFF.
HG Honors: Best Recipe Swap Cheese. Use these in creamy sauces by mixing 'em with skim or light soy milk and fat-free sour cream. And ditch fatty mayo-based spreads for this cheese, too.
The 411: These flavor-packed crumbles come in decadent flavors like Mediterranean Herbs and Tomato Basil (the original is actually the best of all). Sadly, they're nearly impossible to find. Look for them at specialty shops and grocery stores with huge gourmet and dairy sections. Reduced fat types are more readily available, but those have around 70 calories and 5 fat grams per 1/4-cup serving, which isn't exactly a calorie bargain.
The Verdict: These crumbles taste so similar to full-fat versions, our eyes almost popped out of our heads (in a good way) when we saw the extra low calorie count. And trust us, a little of this stuff goes a looooong way. They're good served cold (on salads and in dips) or warm and melt-y (on sandwiches and in soups).
HG Honors: Most Like The Real Thing Cheese. Whether you sprinkle 'em over salads, use them to cheese up a fish dish, or toss some in a low-cal wrap, these crazy crumbles don't taste diet-y at all.
CHEW ON THIS: January 20th is National Cheese Lover's Day. Well, thank goodness for our cheesy lowdown. Now you can celebrate. Woohoo!
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